I remember, clear as day, the last time I fucked up my spine. I was on vacation with my family (which really isn't a vacation when you have small kids). I bent down to tie my kid's shoe, felt something click in my lower back, and that was that. I felt a pain shoot down my leg and I knew that I was fucked. I walked my kid out to the beach and had to lie down on the sand, writhing in pain. When we got back to the house, I went to the bedroom to ice my back. And when I did, I felt the strangest thing happen. It felt as if I had plugged the right half of my body into an electrical socket. I could feel that half of me quivering, like some pulse was running through it. I had no control over it. I couldn't stop it. And now I was scared shitless because we were far from home. My mom came into the room and I asked her to hold my hand because I didn't know what the fuck was happening.
I threw my back out again last week. "Throwing your back out" is sort of a catchall term for anything that goes haywire back there. Some guys have actual back pain. Some guys have the pain shoot through their buttock and down their leg. If you have a really bad back, you can end up incontinent, shitting your pants and pissing yourself (you should, like, go to a hospital if this happens). And after throwing it out this week, I was again scared shitless, worried that the strange sensation—that bizarre sense of internal electrocution—would return.
It's not fun to have this sort of condition—to know your body but not trust it. I've been dealing with what doctors call degenerative disc disease for two decades now, to the point where the pain tends to freelance around my lower body. It pops up in my toes, and my legs, and switches sides as it sees fit. When I went to the doctor on Halloween (the receptionists dressed as Hall & Oates—nice touch!), they took an x-ray of my spine, and it looked something like this, like a bunch of dinner plates stacked lazily next to a sink, not in a precise column.
Your body is an impossibly precise mechanism. There are 100 trillion cells inside you that are working in perfect synchronicity at all times to keep you up and breathing and eating deli meat. The slightest imperfection in the structure of your body, or in its daily processes, can have brutal, lifetime repercussions. Gary Kubiak had a "mini stroke" last week on the sidelines against the Colts, but of course the word "mini" there is so fucking stupid. It's a stroke. It felled a grown man. No matter how small it was, he's not gonna soon forget that moment when everything went haywire, that moment like you see in the horror movie where the dude turning into the fly is like WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME?!
The x-ray the doctor showed me of my lower torso didn't LOOK bad. My spine wasn't in the shape of an S or anything. We're talking about very small deviations, differences that are sometimes so negligible that, when the doctor points them out to you, you can't really see them. I've had that happen before. To the doctor, it's conspicuous. "Look at the spacing between your radius and your ulna! YOU CLEARLY HAVE ARM LEPROSY." And once those small differences are noted, they stay with you. Once in a while, you are reminded that part of you is a bit off kilter, and that it can all go to shit at any time.
The injury rate in football is 100%. Actually, the injury rate of life is 100%, but football helps you fulfill your quota a whole lot faster. Even the guys who walk away from the game with their brains intact and their necks fully fused don't come away unscathed. There's always a piece of them that gets left behind, and there's always something inside them that, for the rest of time, won't work EXACTLY the way it's supposed to. Thanks to a healthy cocktail of drugs, I'm feeling better and will hopefully be spared the knife a fourth time. I'm trying to delay the inevitable. I'm to stave off that pain until I reach the grave and it can't get me again. I have built my life around that mission. I don't run. I sit in firm chairs. I do stretches that make me look stupid. I do all that because I cannot trust this body of mine to hold up under normal circumstances. And no matter how "safe" they make football or how many times that moron Roger Goodell trots out his old lady to teach kids about Heads Up football, the game will still leave most, if not all, of its players with that same distrust.
All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms.
Cowboys at Saints: If Tony Romo's ever gonna get to a Super Bowl, this is the season. Aaron Rodgers is hurt. The Seahawks play down to their competition. The Saints can't stop the run. The Niners... okay, the Niners would probably beat the piss out of the Cowboys. But still! There's no better time for a second tier NFC team like the Cowboys or Panthers or Lions to get hot and blow through to the Super Bowl. By Week 17, the league will be left four healthy players and a series of cardboard cutouts constructed by the citizens of Rock Ridge. This your chance, Romo. Don't blow it!
/watches Romo throw last second pick after completing 98% of his passes
OH GOD YOU BLEW IT!
Panthers at Niners: Here's a terrible announcing cliché: Your team goes out, fucks up, they show the coach yelling, and then the analyst is like, "Boy, special teams coach Moron McSteakhead can't be happy about that." I hate that "can't be happy" bullshit. Hey this dickhead coach can't be happy with his little child players making him look bad! God forbid it's the coach's fault. He coached them. He had some hand in the horrible result. He doesn't get to treat his players like a microwave that's on the fritz. When they cut to the unhappy coach, the announcer should say, "Boy, the players can't be happy with that shitty play coach drew up. He's one to frown!"
Lions at Bears: I'd also like the word COMPETITOR banned from analysis forever. It's the fucking WORST. It means nothing, and it can be applied to any player on the field at any time. It's basically just praising a guy for good attendance. Hey, that guy! He plays in games, that guy! No more.
Broncos at Chargers: I was at a park the other weekend and nearby was an open soccer field where a bunch of dudes were playing a game. They had all their shit on the sidelines: bags and sneakers and extra balls, etc. But I also saw a unicycle. It was sitting there on the ground, right next to some dude's duffel bag. Someone playing in that game UNICYCLED to the park. I wonder how far he went on his unicycle to get there. I wonder if he juggled the whole way as well. If you're driving along and there's a unicycler on the shoulder, your odds of hitting him by accident have to be 50% or higher. We need to watch out for these casual unicyclers. It was never meant to be a practical mode of transportation.
Eagles at Packers: We need a supercut of QB strip faces, because the QB strip face is the best face of all. They all have the same look anytime the ball gets stripped from behind. OH FUCK THE BALL WHERE DID IT GO (looks down frantically)? It's impossible to act casual in that situation.
Seahawks at Falcons: Good God, what happened to Matt Ryan? That's seven picks in the last two games alone. I know Julio Jones is gone, but Ryan has gone into the shitter at lightning speed. I KNEW HE WAS NEVER TRULY ELITE.
/asks Ryan to turn in his Elite Card
Bengals at Ravens
Texans at Cardinals
Dolphins at Bucs: I think that one of the reasons that this whole Martin-Incognito saga has gone completely insane is because it's still risky, especially if you're a guy, to admit that your feelings are hurt. Guys will give each other shit and it will escalate and escalate and it never stops getting worse because it's rare that someone stops for a moment to say that they're genuinely upset. No one wants to be that vulnerable. No one wants to admit that they have a weakness the other guy can now exploit. And of course, no one wants to be a pussy.
It's hard to find that balance between being admirably thick-skinned and taking wayyyy too much abuse. Obviously, someone who crumbles anytime you mention that they have a mustard stain on their shirt could use a bit of toughening up. But real friends should be able to say to each other, "Whoa hey, THAT'S TOO FUCKING FAR, ASSHOLE." It's just like parenting: you establish firm boundaries and you stay consistent with them. If you do that, then a good friend won't tease you all the time about your dead mom.
Also, it's real easy with a story like this to cleanly divide between hero and villain, but male relationships can be murkier than that. Sometimes the "bully" is genuinely friendly. Sometimes the "victim" can be a dick. I know I've played both roles in my lifetime.
Jaguars at Titans: One last thing about rookie hazing: It provides clear and definitive proof that group dinners are the fucking worst. A group dinner is nothing more than an invitation to spend two hours experiencing extreme financial angst. Are we splitting the tab? Is Kevin gonna pick it up? He's rich, so he should. Can we open separate bills? What if everyone wants wine but I don't? HEY JENNY GOT LOBSTER THAT SHIT SHOULD BE NOTED. It's always better to eat your own dinner somewhere, then be the asshole who arrives late to the group dinner, gets one drink, and then throws down five bucks on the way to the next bar.
Redskins at Vikings: That's three primetime games in four weeks for the Vikings. And they got the #1 announcing team on FOX last week for no good reason at all. If you've ever cheered for an awful team, you know how much more embarrassing it is when you have to watch them play in front of a national audience. It's like watching your kid in the school play and he gets all his lines wrong. And he comes out on stage naked by accident. And he farts. It's horrible.
Bills at Steelers
Raiders at Giants
Rams at Colts
Pregame Song That Makes Me Want To Run Through A Goddamn Brick Wall
"Turn It Up," by the Texas Hippie Coalition (video mildly MSFW). From Joe:
This song makes me want to grab a woman like a caveman and throw meat on the grill a drink enough lone star to wrestle Leon Lett.
If you don't like a video featuring strippers and a 500-lb. bearded lead singer, then you aren't 'Merican. Please note that the band's name is NOT sincere.
Also, reader Paul sent in a song this week called "Welcome to the Spaceship, Motherfucker" by a band named Oozing Wound. The video for that song comes with an epilepsy warning, and it's not joke. It really will give you epilepsy.
Suicide Pick Of The Week
Last week's picks of Dallas, Seattle, and Green Bay went 2-1, making me 21-6 on the year. Once again, we pick three teams for suicide pool and one thing that makes you want to commit suicide. This week's picks are Tennessee, the Giants, Indianapolis, and scheduling shit. If you work and you have kids, 90% of your life consists of scheduling and rescheduling shit. Oh hey, Johnny wants to have a playdate with Bobby Monday! Let me just write that down! Oops, turns out Billy has a dentist appointment that day! What about Tuesday? Oh wait, teacher conference! How about Saturday! Oh wait! There's a birthday party! Maybe if we ask Cindy to move her party, and we reschedule with the dentist, and then we have Congress pass an order to institute a Federal holiday so that school doesn't interfere that day, we can make it work! (hangs self)"
Gregg Easterbrook Is A Haughty Dipshit
Matthew Mark Luke And John! What televised plot inconsistencies will enrage your columnist this week? Well, there are 1,200 words (swear to God) excoriating NCIS: LA in your future, if you're into that very specific kind of masochism. But first, which team leads the league in NON GLORY BOY WINS?!
In terms of what this column calls authentic wins — victories over other top teams — the Colts are the best so far
"Quality wins" is such a cliche. Far better to use the cognomen "authentic wins" to ascertain which teams have the finest strength of schedule and graduation rates.
How do others compare? Undefeated Kansas City and stats-a-palooza Denver each have only one victory over a team with a winning record
MOTHERFUCKING STATS-A-PALOOZA, DENVER. TMQ knows you're all about piling up the hollow stats and not about the wins! You're just another show-offy, me-firstish paper tiger, and you will get yours one day by god. You stat-o-rama statsters.
In a development that made this columnist cheer, in the fourth quarter on "Monday Night Football," Bears coach Marc Trestman heeded years of hectoring by Tuesday morning quarterbacks and went for it on fourth down in his own territory. The result was victory.
TRESTMAN: I think I'll punt here... WAIT A MOMENT! This is at last a chance to prove to the world that all that time I spent reading GREGGGGGGG Easterbrook can pay off! He's been encouraging me from afar to be bold all this time, and now it is time for me to ACT. Thank you, Gregggggg. Thank you thank you thank you thank you. You have shown me the path of righteousness.
Coming into this season, Trestman had an indistinct reputation. Now he is Manly Man Numero Uno! And now the Bears have the football gods on their side, which I for one would not want to mess with.
Indeed! Once Gregg has deemed you worthy of the football gods, you are a made man. It's a license to win, essentially. YOU ARE WELCOME, BEARS.
The Brown ended up consuming 6½ minutes on the possession, kicking a field goal and leaving Baltimore just 14 seconds. That's a manly-man sweet play!
Which is like a regular sweet play, but with extra engorgement!
TMQ attributes the Persons' victory foremost to the Washington cheer-babes. Kickoff temperature 57 degrees with a stiff wind, the cheerleaders wore summer two-piece numbers in the second half. Outstanding professionalism, and the football gods smiled.
Oh, they more than smiled. They unzipped their heavenly flies and took out their divine dingdongs and they jizzed HOT SWEET GLORY down upon FedEx Field that day.
Now, desperate to crank out plots — the shows are up to 340 total episodes — "NCIS" scriptwriters often dispense altogether with jurisdiction.
NOOOO NOT JURISDICTION!
"NCIS: Los Angeles" depicts the bustling NCIS office in the City of Angels, but there is no NCIS bureau in Los Angeles.
NOOOO MY GOD EVERYTHING I'VE EVER KNOWN IS A LIE. And did you know that there is no Dorothy Gale listed in ANY phone directory in the state of Kansas? YE PRINCES.
Action movies and shows have too many characters depicted as casually skilled in languages.
These characters are far too smart! TMQ feels threatened.
In the NFL, draft choices are precious.
Unless they are first rounders in which case kiss your money goodbye!
Considering the Nesharim had laid eggs in their previous two games, it was defensible for Kelly to keep the pedal down in the second half of Philadelphia's destruction of Oakland. But one wonders — was Kelly trying to get his team to believe its season can be saved, or does he think there are style points in the NFL?
O ho ho! Chip Kelly was right to run up the score on the Raiders. Or was he now? Might he tempt the football gods' wrath with such a repugnant lack of sportsmanship? (holds up telephone receiver menacingly) And now for this week in Gregggg taking everything literally...
Asked by Holly Rowe as he jogged off for halftime what he thought of the bad weather, Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio replied, "There's a lot of elements." Indeed there are, at least 118 with ununoctium the latest added.
HAHAHAHA GOOD ONE PROFESSOR! It's true: the word element has no other definition.
Years ago, TMQ told a radio interview that one thing I'd like to see in sports is a football game won by a safety in overtime. Now I have!
Or you could have seen it back on November 6th, 1989, when the Vikings beat the Rams in similar fashion. Oh, but that game didn't count because it wasn't a manifestation of Gregg's desires.
Great Moments In Poop History
Reader Chris sends in this story I call POOP DOG: THE MOVIE:
My freshman year in high school in Vermont, I was on the cross country ski team. I was one of the team's better skiers. To prep for races each week, we'd have night races at our practice course. On a particular week, a week when we didn't have class, I had spent the day at a teammate's house, playing video games and doing stupid high school freshman stuff. I'd also used his bathroom six or seven times. My stomach had been a mess all day, and I was starting to wonder if I should race.
But when it appeared I had cleared whatever vile-ness was inside me and I hadn't needed to use the bathroom for a few hours, I decided I was probably in the clear. The race starts and I'm doing pretty well. The race is two loops around a 1.5-mile, snow-packed, wooded trail, and I'm just starting my second loop when it hits me, without warning. I guessed I had roughly 15 seconds to relieve myself. Keep in mind that I'm on cross country skis, had just gone down a fairly large hill, and I need to get them off to get off the trail and into the woods. There's also roughly two dozen skiers behind me and I'd rather them not see me releasing my bowels into the snowy wilderness. It's just not a pretty sight.
I kick off the skis and race for the woods, trying to get off my ski pants. I didn't make it. Now I'm sitting in the snow, in my own filth. One of my friends skis by and I call out to him. He stops and comes over. I ask him not to come too close and explain that he should go finish the race...and then come back and give me a new pair of pants. He couldn't stop laughing. The story spread pretty quickly, and at the post-race awards that evening, I got an honorary award from our coach (and a free pizza!) for taking it all like a champ.
I'll never understand cross country skiing. You don't see anyone cross-country sledding, do you?
Emmitt Smith's Lock of the Week!
"I like Case Keaton and the Houston Texans (-2.5) to go into Arizona (my formal team!) and beat the Cardinals on their HOME TURD! You know what they say about Arizona: It's not the heat... It's the HUMILITY! Well, I think this Keaton kid has more than enough humility to bring the Texans back! Lot of people think the Texans are finished. Done. Over. Cape Boot! Well, let me just DeBarge that myth for you right here and now. Case Keaton is for real!" Emmitt Smith 2013 record: 2-5-1
This Week In Terrifying Animal News
By this point, we all know about the poor British lady who found a family of deadly Brazilian banana spiders bursting out from a piece of fruit she was about to eat. Reader Bob would also like to point out that, not only can the banana spider kill you, but Wikipedia says it can also give you a lasting and painful boner before it does so:
Erections resulting from the bite are uncomfortable, can last for many hours and can lead to impotence.
That is not the boner I had in mind. Oh, and then there's this...
A component of the venom is being studied for use in erectile dysfunction treatments.
I think I'll avoid volunteering for that case study.
Fantasy Player Who Deserves to Die A Slow, Painful Death
Ray Rice. Fifteen points in your last three starts combined? I HOPE YOU KNOW THAT YOU ARE A TERRIBLE PERSON.
Also, a bonus FUCK YOU to the asshole in your league who claimed Zac Stacy off of waivers before you did a few weeks back. Every season, there are one or two guys on the waiver wire who turn out to be absolute gods. Do YOU ever get them? No. No, fucking Mike in payroll somehow had waiver priority over you. What a load of shit.
Fire This Asshole!
Is there anything more exciting than a coach losing his job? All year long, we'll keep track of which coaches will almost certainly get fired at year's end or sooner. And now, your potential 2013 chopping block:
- Leslie Frazier*
- Greg Schiano*****
- Gus Bradley
- Mike Munchak
- Mike Shanahan
- Mike Tomlin
- Dennis Allen
- Jeff Fisher
- Joe Philbin
- Tom Coughlin
*-Potential midseason firing
I took Gary Kubiak off this week because everyone deserves a grace period after suffering from a freakin' stroke. It's possible that we will see only one head coach—Schiano—fired after this season. Vikings GM Rick Spielman has already said Les Frazier is coming back (although Spielman himself might get canned himself, rendering his statement worthless). If Schiano ends up being the only casualty, I demand that the Bucs publicly announce his firing eight times, so that we still get that solid Black Monday feeling.
Gametime Snack Of The Week
Big Mama pickled sausage, sent in by Max. I see these sausages at the convenience store all the time, but I can never muster up the courage to pull the trigger and actually buy one. 'Tis a brave man willing to shell out $1.35 for a fifty-week old bag of pickled cat meat.
Gametime Cheap Beer Of The Week
Ol' Glory! From Mark:
Because Freedom Is Not Free! It actually costs $2.99 for a six-pack. Pride of LaCrosse, WI. Return The Favor! 'Murika!
Well obviously, I hope the makers of Ol' Glory beer are also the same people that sell Old Glory life insurance. You're gonna want a strong beer for when the robots come for you. And they will.
Robert Evans's MVP Watch!
Time to start thinking about who the leaders will be for the NFL's MVP award. So every week, legendary Hollywood producer Robert Evans will join us to give us his assessment. Take it away, Mr. Evans.
"Baby, my favorite for NFL MVP is still Peyton Manning of the Broncos! All this talk of bullying in the NFL makes me laugh. Racial taunts? Expensive dinners? 'Texted' messages? THAT'S ALL CHILD'S PLAY, BABY. If you want to see what REAL bullying looks like, baby, then get that dimpled ass of yours into my industry. I've seen directors hit assistants with running chainsaws. I've seen Harvey Weinstein submerge a screenwriter into a vat of boiling coffee. I've seen starlets bound and gagged and left hanging from a suspension harness for eight weeks. You are a cold man, James Cameron! I've even engaged in a bit of coerced sodomy myself! Sexy? YOU BET! Illegal? NOT IN 1972.
"But there was one bully in my game that rose above all the rest: the fabulous Cecil B. DeMille! Ol' CBD could put welts on your back just by looking at you! Back in 1955, I was a spry young hustler straight out of New York City, and I hightailed it out to La-La Land to audition for a plum role in The Ten Commandments. I think the role was Moses Jr.
"ANYWAY, I got shot down for the role but somehow managed to escape CBD's wrath. I got a job working in the craft services truck, and I promise you I made the finest goddamn omelets you ever tasted! One morning, I was cracking eggs and working the phones when co-star Anne Baxter came running into the truck, crying her eyes out. She was hiding from Cecil. Why, he had beaten her to within an inch of her life! And so I held her, and calmed her down, and made sweet love to her right there on the kitchen floor, omelet drippings burning my back with intense pleasure. And I realized that I had something of a talent for 'rescuing' CBD's victims. I followed that guy around for the next three years, picking up any woman he threw off his motorcycle, and there were THOUSANDS. Easiest pickings I ever found! He died."
Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Week For Jaguars Fans
Miller's Crossing for the ninetieth time. My mental movie archive is pretty much exhausted at this point. I think I've covered every old movie I've ever liked, and I never get to see new movies anymore because I have children and they give zero fucks about my pop culture credibility. So if you've got some old unheralded chestnut that you think anyone besides Tim Grierson will actually enjoy watching, send it my way.
Gratuitous Simpsons Quote
"Oh, don't worry children. Most of you will never fall in love, but will marry out of fear of dying alone."
Enjoy the games, everyone.
Drew Magary writes for Deadspin and Gawker. He's also a correspondent for GQ. Follow him on Twitter @drewmagary and email him at email@example.com. You can also buy Drew's book, Someone Could Get Hurt, through his homepage.
Image by Jim Cooke, photo via Getty